Major studies on the effect of exercise on how long people live have been conducted in the United States and Finland. They have shown that an active and healthy lifestyle won't make you live much longer than someone who's sedentary.
So why exercise if you won't benefit by living longer than everyone else? Let me convince you that exercise has a multitude of benefits in old age that will make you forget about living longer and enable you to enjoy the life you have.
The average person who exercises regularly lives for about two years longer than the person who doesn't exercise. If you exercise for 30 minutes a day from the age of 20 to the average age of death at 75, then you've spent about 10,000 hours exercising.
Sounds like a lot, but there, are about 8700 hours in a year, so that's only a bit over a year, of your life spent exercising. You've gained on average perhaps another eight months of life. So you will probably gain a little extra life on average if you stay fit and active.
You may think this is hardly worth all the effort of regular physical activity, so perhaps you should think about the way exercise improves the efficiency of your body, I often hear people jokingly say that they don't like to exercise because it will put their heart rate up, and they only have a certain number of heartbeats before they die.
If you exercise you'll use them up earlier and die younger! Well, let me dazzle you with some numbers. I'm going to presume that 80 beats per minute (bpm) is the rate for every minute of your life from age 20 to age 75. That's a total of 4800 beats per hour, or 115,200 beats per day, or 42 million beats per year, or 2312 million beats over the 55 years.
If you exercise for 30 minutes a day at a heart rate of 120 bpm your heart has been asked to beat about an extra 24 million beats in the 55 years. But one of the benefits of regular aerobic exercise is that it reduces your resting heart rate. If your heart rate when you're not exercising has gone down to 70 beats, per minute be cause your cardiovascular system is fitter, then you'd save 300 million beats in the 55 years, so you're 300 million heart beats ahead even after exercising. 300 million contractions of that tiny muscle that is your heart.
Think about this. If you under take an easy and simple exercise routine for 30 minutes a day, your heart will have to beat about 300 million times less over 55 years of your lifetime. And the same principle would apply for the muscles that control your breathing or your digestion.
Quality of life goes up because the physical activities of life are easier when you're fitter, and the stress and strain of everyday living has less of an effect on your body.
When I've mentioned "age" I've been talking about chronological age, which is the number of years since your birth. But you should realize that there are people who are "old" at 30 and others who are "young" at 90. Your fitness at any biological age is an indication of your "functional" age.
A study in South Australia took a 60-year-old and put him on an exercise program. His fitness improved to the extent that he had the same aerobic fitness as the average Australian 20-year-old.
This says a lot about the ability of older adults to achieve their potential at any age, but I must admit it is an indictment of the sedentary lifestyle of Australia's young adults.
People who are physically active will be fully functional and independent until about two years before they die. Those with a poor sedentary lifestyle will begin to lose functionality and independence about 13 years before they die.
A lifetime habit of exercise is an investment in quality of life. It sets you up to be able to enjoy healthy life to the fullest.
I've given you plenty to think about over the past few months, and now it's time for you to decide how old your body will be in five years time. Will you be old before your time, or laughing at the years as they roll by?
A lack of regular physical activity is often associated with other lifestyle problems, such as depression, inability to express emotions, feelings of helplessness, feelings of dissatisfaction, feelings of regret, feelings of irritability, a lack of control of your life, worry, a lonely life, no regular daily routine, and a job where you work long hours under stress.
Exercise is a physical release for all those feelings. If you think of exercise as hard, dull, boring, painful, unpleasant, and humiliating, then you're thinking about some thing different from me.
Exercise will be a pleasant experience if you just make the effort to find a reputable fitness or recreation center with registered and experienced staff.
They will assess your current fitness, pay attention to your aims, prepare an exercise plan, gradually prepare your for exercise, lead you through a pleasant workout, direct your recovery, and give you advice on maximizing your fitness gains.
Exercise in the 2010s is a pleasure for your body, liberating your mind, emotions and spirit.